What is Tutoring?

Click on the play button above to listen to an audio version of this blog post.

By Igor Peric

Tutoring is a journey that takes us on paths that are as different as our own lives and personalities. Often, the first step involves facing real or imagined fears about yourself, such as Am I good enough? and Are people going to find out I don’t know anything? and yet, to allow the feeling that you indeed have valuable knowledge to share with others to overcome these crippling ideas. Some of us are confident throughout the whole process, and some of us express doubts along the way, what is important how it makes us grow.

To grow, that is where our paths and the paths of our students converge, and the journey of learning becomes an adventure taken together. Some of us might recognize in our students the courage to ask for help, and the crippling fear of not being good enough, that was once (or perhaps still is) our own. Be what may, most often we are the guides our students look to for direction, and we are asked to provide not only academic, but emotional support as well.

Life is about persevering and beating the odds. It is about admitting I do not understand, please teach me, which is both courageous and humbling. In the same vein, both asking for help and deciding to be a tutor, can take the same amount of courage. Being a tutor is simply that next step we take when we feel that we can guide others past the same point where we were in the past. And yet, a point one never gets past in life, not knowing, a beautiful concept in itself.

As we go through life, we will always be both the teacher and the student. Ascribing oneself to being only one or the other is either arrogant or self-devaluing, respectively. Everybody knows something and has yet to learn something else. It is the realization and the desire to better oneself that is important.

The student-tutor relationship is a much more personal one than the classic student-teacher relationship. One way I could describe it, starting with the student-teacher relationship, is that it is akin to the relationship between a restaurant patron and the chef. The food represents the knowledge that the student consumes, and while they may read the menu and pose a few questions to the waiter about the meal, which is usually the extent of it because so many other students are waiting to eat as well.

The student tutor relationship is more like cooking together. The meals can be of varying complexity but the way I like to think about it is that both the student and the tutor are trying to fill a big crock pot with various ingredients. Of course, the tutor oversees the pot, but it is his responsibility to allow the student to put as much of his own contribution barring something that would completely ruin the taste. In that case, the tutor must point out to the student why putting an old shoe into the pot might not be appealing and provide alternatives.

At the end of the session, both the student and the tutor will savor the meal they have created and thus, have partaken in the learning process together.

Igor Peric is a 3rd year Internet Applications and Web Development program and has been a tutor since Fall of 2017. In the future, Peric plans to continue his studies at University in Computer Studies.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Like Mother, Like Daughter


Photo by Jenna Norman on UnsplashI have always felt I had the genetic ability to teach from my mother. Growing up, my mother worked hard and went through high school, then BSc in Linguistics then finally her MS and PhD in Linguistics, all with me, her oldest daughter, and my two younger sisters. It was a challenge for her but SHE DID IT. She later became a full Professor at the University of Kuwait where she worked for 25 years and loved every moment of it as she constantly told us proudly.

My mother, at the beginning of her teenage life, struggled with English growing up in the Middle East in a small country called Kuwait where she was born. She later married at a young age of 15 years old but that never stopped her in pursing her dreams to finish school. So she moved to the US in the early 1960s where she met my dad and got married in Denver, Colorado. There she finished school and struggled due to the language barrier but that never stopped her from becoming a full Professor in Linguistics later in life.

Her first job was a gift wrapper at a local mall during Christmas time and as she told us the interaction she had with her customers helped her increase the spoken English ability and became better as time passed. 25 years of teaching taught her a lot on a personal level and from her thousands of students she taught throughout those years.

She admits that teaching isn’t a easy job but the satisfaction she gets when her students succeed is more precious than anything materialistic you can buy.

She currently has retired and still to this day she still loves to teach but now to her grandchildren who are benefitting out of her knowledge. So my genetic makeup from my mother made it natural for me to love tutoring/teaching and I will try do it as long as I shall live.

I have been a peer-tutor for a year now, and this year has been both challenging and positive and has made me realize my love of teaching. I learned that as a person that you need a tremendous amount of patience and knowledge but  above love of teaching. You gain a feeling of satisfaction after your student received the teaching they needed  and then achieves a high test score. My students this past year were all hard workers and I learned from them all, how their hunger for knowledge made them great students to tutor. I also learned from them about both my weaknesses and strengths and have grown in the last year.

May all my students succeed now and in the future.

MONA EL FALDY is a second year Nursing BsCN student at St. Clair College and has been a tutor since September 2017. El Faldy’s future goals is to become a Nurse Practitioner and open her own clinic.
Photo credits: Photo by Jenna Norman on Unsplash